I personally wasn’t well prepared for the huge announcement by Microsoft about their moving Office applications to cloud services, based on new Windows 8 capabilities to better support mobile applications.
However, I wasn’t surprised either, since it reflects the need to exploit the benefits that mobile UC-enablement can bring to traditional business applications. However, Microsoft’s concerted move of their traditional desktop business software tools to cloud-based, mobile devices, along with their announcement of their Surface tablet, also brings them into a race with Apple and Google for the hearts and minds of consumers, who, by definition, are BYOD end users. It also is a game changer for how organizations will develop, offer, and support “mobile apps” for all their end users, including internal staff and business partners.
You’ll see more comments from my colleagues about Microsoft’s announcement on this site. Microsoft has drastically revamped their Microsoft Office applications to work with their Windows 8 operating system, which supports new user interface capabilities that, like Apple, exploit touch, as well as providing cloud-based, “persistent” context information across a variety of end user endpoint devices (mobile and desktop).
The new applications allow users to not only easily switch between three basic endpoint devices, desktop/laptop/tablet/smartphones, but also provides greater flexibility in accessing, modifying, and communicating about information that is available in private or public clouds. Microsoft has also integrated various aspects of social networking with their Office applications, along with presence-based contact and user activity information. through their recent acquisition of Yammer.
Microsoft is entering the fray from a position of strength with enterprise desktop business software tools, like Office 2013 and Office 365, that can now be expanded into UC-enabled business communications with its Lync product as a voice platform. With this new announcement, I see Microsoft extending its application software dominance from desktops to cloud-based services and UC-enabled mobile endpoint devices. This will also enable Microsoft to extend the benefits of UC to Contact Center online self-service applications, as well as to traditional voice call routing and IVR applications. One of Microsoft’s longtime partners, Clarity Consulting, Inc., just released it’s latest “Connect” offering, based on the Lync platform, which Microsoft described as “a true UC Contact Center.”